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The Legacy of

Marie Louise Greenwood

Marie L. Greenwood was honored extensively for her teaching excellence that earned her tenure in 1938 as the first African American contracted teacher in Denver Public Schools, thus opening the doors for the equitable and inclusive district it strives to be today.


After she turned 100, she published her engaging autobiography, By the Grace of God: The True Life Journey of 100 Years, was awarded Mayor Michael Hancock’s Outstanding Contributor to Denver Medal and was honored by the Colorado Department of Education as a Trailblazer in Education for the Children of the State of Colorado.


Even in death, Mrs. Greenwood continues to be our inspiration due to her wisdom and legacy throughout her almost 107 years of life!

She is an only child born Marie Louise Anderson, Nov. 24, 1912, in Los Angeles to her 21-year-old mother from Texas and her 33-year-old French-speaking Creole father who had already ridden horses with Poncho Villa in Mexico.

At the age of 30, Marie married William (Bill) Rivers Greenwood, age 23, on April 17, 1943. They went on to have four children, a girl and three boys. Bill always wanted the best for her and their family.

Spanish vs. French or Dad vs. Teenager

Mrs. Greenwood harbors one regret. As teenagers are known for, she rebelled against her trilingual father’s encouragement to study Spanish in school. She insisted she should study French instead, so she could have conversations with her Creole relatives. It was too late when she discovered her French-speaking relatives also spoke English!!

In 2001, Mrs. Greenwood was honored by Denver Public Schools when they named a new elementary school in the Montbello community in her honor. By 2004 the school added middle school, grades 6 - 8, and in 2013 was renamed Marie L. Greenwood Academy.

  • Shorter African Methodist Episcopal Church 

  •  Camp Nizhoni 

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha 

  • Coterie

  •  Denver Public Library  

  • Y.W.C.A. 

"By the Grace of God"

"Every Child Can Learn"

Denver Public School's Superintendent Tom Boasberg letter

MUSE article

Denver Post articles

City of Denver Proclamation

History Colorado Center video exhibit

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